Friday, 5 July 2013

Popsicles and Ska.

As you know, things haven’t been going so well for me for a while now. There are things I can’t talk about because it’s someone else’s life, not mine to write about. But it isn’t going well for me either.

 Me? Well things are hurting that shouldn’t, the drugs are messing with my head and with my body and nothing is going right.

And now it’s midnight and I should be in bed mulling over all my problems. Instead I’m sitting here writing this, eating a Mr Freeze frozen popsicle. I’ve been out, and I’ve been dancing the night away – with a walking stick. There seems to have been a man in a Fez involved as well. And beer too (isn’t there always), I think I’d better explain….

I was feeling a bit low (blah blah blah, yawn) and I took a real chance and went out to the Staines Riverside Club (Ex-services and the UNISON Trades Union) to catch ‘The Skasouls’, a local 6 piece Ska band. Their site is here;

You really should check it out.

Normally, I take pictures, write down the setlist together with a few lengthy and relevant comments. Intellectual stuff, y’know.

Well I wrote the pithy comments on a Café Nero paper napkin – it got all sweaty and fell apart. The pictures didn’t come out so well either. Here’s the band before it warmed up (that’s about 5 minutes into the set).


 I know there was some Bob Marley, a lot of 1960’s Ska straight off the Trojan label and almost the whole of the Two-tone hits from the 1970’s.

There was ‘A message to you Rudy’, ‘007’, Sally Brown and a lot more…it’s just that then I started dancing on ‘Pressure Drop’ and ‘Madness’, and the rest of the napkin just dissolved. Sorry.

Each number was three minutes long , high voltage music for men of a certain age (that’s me). There was beer involved too, did I mention that?

When a couple of people started dancing, it seemed rude not to join in – and then the dance floor filled out around me;


So there’s me with a great big nail in my leg (couldn’t have done any of it without the two nailmen) all drugged up (thanks to the Monday people) and having the time of my life, in my Doc Martens doing the skinhead moonstomp.

In the interval I remember one of the Brass section (and they were sooo good) saying to me; “We’re just warming up”, and me saying “That’s OK I’m about to call for an ambulance”. You think I’m joking?

In the toilet I remember a number of quite stocky men quietly and very politely discussing the relevant merits of boxing as against kick boxing. It was that kind of crowd.

It was a great, great night. I didn’t think I would be lucky enough to have such a good time again, with some really nice people who took me to their hearts. And my glasses steamed up too– always a good sign, I think.

If you look up their website ‘The Skasouls’ have a long gig list – ‘The Airman’ pub in Feltham would be a stomping venue, quite a tough pub, but it’s my part of the world, my patch and manor. I’m a face there. May pop in, health permitting.

Some memories came back to me – the 1970’s were a tough, tough time. Anti-racist battles fought out at concert halls, pubs and clubs.

One night spent sharing a stage with Desmond Dekker (and the Israelites) defending them against racist skinheads. Don't get me wrong – I’m not tough and I’m not hard, but if you have right on your side and you fight as a collective, you really can change the world.

We did, you can too.                                                

The Two-tone Ska movement of the late 70’s together with the whole MOD thing, we changed people. We made things better, we made people better. No s@#t.

And as a result, I had this great, great night, great sounds, great good time dancing and memories of well fought battles.

So that’s what I’m thinking about at 1-00 am in the night with all my problems gone and forgotten. And maybe I just ought to have another popsicle.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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